Longhua Martyrs' Cemetery
Between 1928 and 1937 Communist party members and other political agitators were imprisoned, executed and buried within the confines of the infamous Kuomintang prison. In 1995 it became the Longhua Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery, as a memorial to those who had died in the struggle to bring socialism to China.
Whenever I travel abroad, I make it my goal to have as “foreign” an experience as possible. Thus, based on everything I had studied about Shanghai prior to arriving in China, I fully expected it to be my least favorite city we would visit on this trip. A sprawling cityscape that was losing, or had already lost, its Chinese roots to international influences (my impression of the city before we left) did not seem to have a lot to offer to some of my more adventurous desires. I am very happy to say that that I was wrong about Shanghai. While foreign influences into the city are quite easy to see, there is so much in Shanghai that we have done that is uniquely “Chinese.” First (and in my opinion most important) is the food. From the very first dinner, Chinese food has been a treat. That dinner also set a trend for trying foods that could definitely be considered strange back home beginning with what we were told was “spicy fungus” at that first dinner. Among the other foods that I have tried here are sheep intestine, donkey meat, and cuttlefish sushi (along with several other meats for which I still do not have a name). Per our student guides' recommendations, we have also been able to eat at two restaurants that specialize in Northeastern Chinese dishes and dumplings and Northwestern Chinese dishes and noodles. All the food has been exceptionally good, and I have even been able to figure out the use of chopsticks (at least a little). As far as our experiences go, two events have especially stuck with me, neither of which was a part of our regular schedule. First, Jon and I took one of our free days with the intention of visiting the Longhua Temple and Pagoda complex. We never made it to the temple, however, as along the way we got sidetracked at what appeared to be a neat-looking park. We discovered that this was actually the Longhua Cemetery of Martyrs, a memorial park dedicated to individuals who died bringing communism to China. This was almost a surreal experience, as many commemorative statues and other structures strongly honored those who died. Also at the park was The Tomb of the Unknown Martyr with an Eternal Flame, and dotting the park were rocks engraved with the writings of some of the revolutionaries who were killed. These memorials perfectly encapsulated my experience in the park; there was a great peace throughout the area, but it was a very somber peace. It felt like it would be wrong to speak too loudly or laugh too heartily while in the presence of the memorials. The only other comparable experience I have had was the trip I took to the Dachau Concentration Camp last year; Longhua, however, still managed to capture a peace that could not ever exist there. I had never even heard of this place before my visit, but once I am back home I would like to research the area and find out more about the memorial park and some of the individuals memorialized there. (Apologies for trying to get a little poetic there, but putting the feelings of an area like this into words is very near impossible.)
Generally you can't compare this cemetery with an ordinary graveyard, it is more similar to a park. It used to be the site of the Song-hu Security Headquarters of the Kuomingtang. At that time there was also a prison in the area where many communist revolutionaries were imprisoned and many of them even killed during China's civil wars (1927-1941, 1945-1949). Now it is the resting place for more than 500 martyrs who died for the revolution against the Kuomingtang as well as those who were killed during the Anti-Japanese War. In July 1995 it was opened to the public to commemorate these heroes of New China and has become one of the most important patriotic educational bases of Shanghai. Surrounded by varied flora you can have a relaxing walk on paved paths through green fields. Mostly there are no tombs in sight but many monuments are spread all over the area which commemorate revolutionary martyrs who fought and died in Shanghai. At the center of the park stands a monumental sign which quotes Jiang Zemin: "Red Heart Fresh Blood for the People" - meaning 'sacrifice everything for the people'.In the north west of the cemetery, behind the pyramid shaped memorial hall you can find graves of a more revolutionaries - among them the first wife of Deng Xiaoping. Close to the graves there is the martyr's memorial hall and the revolutionary cadres memorial hall, but both are not open to the public. Besides the big Memorial Hall, a museum with more than 1,000 relics and numbers of pictures, you can visit the execution ground of the former prison.
On Saturday, Ray visited the Longhua Martyrs' Cemetery and Memorial Museum. This was a large park area with many beautiful monuments and sculptures. The park is located on land where 24 skeletons and many relics were found in the 1950's. These skeletons were from revolutionary pioneers who were murdered on this site. I don't have many details of the various monuments and statues, but did take a photo of the sign at the entrance for reference. Adjacent to the park is the 7 story Longhua Pagoda, one of 16 remaining pagoda's in Shanghai.